Giant Steps

Our Story

In 1997 Phil Sexton arrived in the Yarra Valley in search of altitude, aged soils, slopes of exposure, regular rainfall and cool to cold night time temperatures and a gentle breeze off the protecting mountain ranges. Why, because he wanted to grow amazing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir fruit to make wines of purity and finesse.

Steve Flamsteed, Chief Winemaker of Giant Steps since 2003 has set about creating a range of Single Vineyard wines that personify each site.  The Yarra Valley Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, LDR and Syrah were then created, clearly displaying the Yarra Valley fruit in a simple, textural and affordable light.

The Giant Steps wines have received global acclaim and established a strong reputation in restaurants and fine wine stores around the world.

Since 2003 Giant Steps wines have collectively been awarded 34 trophies and over 100 gold medals at major international and domestic wine shows and has been named one of the Top 100 Wineries in the World by Wine & Spirits Magazine, US for each of the last six years.


Born in Busselton, Western Australia, and growing up during the early years of the Margaret River wine industry, Phil was captivated by the understanding that wine growing offered an opportunity to engage in agriculture, the ether, art and science.

Phil is a Science graduate of the University of Western Australia and has a Master of Science in Fermentation and Brewing Science from the University of Birmingham (England).

Phil’s career in brewing includes Brewmaster at the Swan Brewing Company in Perth, co-founder of the Matilda Bay Brewing Company and co-founder of Little Creatures Brewing Company. Phil has also brewed in Belgium, Germany and the USA.

Phil’s wine career includes studying Wine Science at Charles Sturt University (incomplete), founding Devil’s Lair Vineyard & Winery in Margaret River and, more recently, Giant Steps and Innocent Bystander in the Yarra Valley.

Nowadays Phil still remains close to his friends in the craft beer industry (“because it is great fun”), while focusing his time and energy on the single vineyard wines of Giant Steps.


Steve joined Giant Steps as Chief Winemaker in 2003, but his first qualification was in food, completing a four-year chef’s apprenticeship in Brisbane in the mid 1980’s.

A keen skier, Steve travelled extensively in Europe, France in particular, paying his way chefing in small cafes, ski lodges and doing a 12-month stint at the St James Club in London.

Whilst travelling in France, Steve developed a number of culinary passions including cheese making, which would see him later return to France to study this trade. However, it was after working at Chateau du Bluizard in the Beaujolais region that Steve was inspired to become a qualified winemaker.

On returning to Australia, Steve enrolled in the winemaking course at Roseworthy Agricultural College, graduating with a Bachelor of Science (Wine Science) in 1993, whilst at the same time supporting his studies working as a Chef at Maggie Beer’s Pheasant Farm Restaurant in the Barossa Valley.

In 1994, having maintained his interest in and passion for cheese, Steve won a Queen’s Trust Scholarship to study farmhouse cheese making in France. On his return from France Steve spent a year working as a cheese maker at Milawa in North Eastern Victoria.

As a winemaker, Steve has worked for Leeuwin Estate, Margaret River, WA (1999 – 2002) and the Hardy Wine Company at their Yarra Burn Winery in Victoria’s Yarra Valley (2002 – 2003).

Steve is a Len Evans Scholar and experienced wine show judge.


Melanie Chester joined Giant Steps as Head of Winemaking and Viticulture in 2021. She came to Giant Steps from Sutton Grange Winery in Central Victoria, where she was Head Winemaker.

Melanie completed her studies in Viticulture and Oenology at the University of Adelaide, where she was the recipient of the Wolf Blass Prize for Excellence in Winemaking (2011) and the David Bradley Memorial Prize (2012), indicating the promise of an outstanding contribution to the wine industry. Her wine industry experience spans diverse estates such as d’Arenberg in the McLaren Vale, Charles Melton in the Barossa, and Quinta do Crasto in Portugal’s Douro Valley.

Prior to her appointment at Sutton Grange, Melanie was Winemaker at Seppelt Wines in Great Western where she became a sought-after wine show judge, including for the Royal Melbourne Wine Awards where she currently serves as panel chair.

In 2014, Melanie became the youngest ever scholar selected for The Len Evans Tutorial. In 2015, she was named Young Winemaker of the Year by Gourmet Traveller WINE magazine, and in 2018, Melanie was recognized by Young Gun of Wine as the People’s Choice award winner for favourite winemaker.


"A stand-out producer of the Yarra Valley... vineyard by vineyard, they offer a positive insight into the terroir of Yarra Valley." Nick Stock, Gourmet Traveller Wine

"Winemaker Steve Flamsteed's chardonnays are Yarra benchmarks." Ralph Kyte-Powell, The Age

– "The Giant Steps single vineyard wines have slipped into the realms of Most Anticipated Releases of the Year." Gary Walsh, The Wine Front

– "Giant Steps reflects the best aspects of Australia's shift in style in Chardonnay toward more bracing characteristics." Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator

– "These [pinots] are structured, delicate wines that you won't find from California or Chile, with a softness of fruit that you won't necessarily get from France." Justin Knock MW, Decanter

– "A regular in my annual top 20, Giant Steps' winemaker Steve Flamsteed was justifiably named Gourmet Traveller Wines Winemaker of the Year." Philip Rich, Australian Financial Review

Our Wines